In many respects ‘Alive II’ marked the end of an era for Kiss, although the band’s popularity at the time was rather exaggerated – they were very, very popular but never capable of filling stadiums in the US back then.
Written by: ReynoRoxx
ALBUM: Alive II
SERIAL: NBLP 7076
CD REISSUE: Discogs Reissue List
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN: USA
LINEUP: Paul Stanley – guitar, vocals * Ace Frehley – guitar, vocals * Gene Simmons – bass, vocals * Peter Criss – drums, vocals
TRACK LISTING: 01 Detroit Rock City * 02 King Of The Night Time World * 03 Ladies Room * 04 Makin’ Love * 05 Love Gun *06 Calling Dr Love * 07 Christine Sixteen * 08 Shock Me *09 Hard Luck Woman * 10 Tomorrow And Tonight * 11 I Stole Your Love * 12 Beth * 13 God Of Thunder * 14 I Want You *15 Shout It Out Loud *16 All American Man * 17 Rockin In The USA *18 Larger Than Life *19 Rocket Ride * 20 Any Way You Want It
WEBLINKS: Site Link
‘Alive II’ was, alongside ‘Quo Live’, ‘At Budokan’, ‘Strangers In The Night’ and ‘If You Want Blood…You Got It’, one of the albums that had a tremendous influence in my life. And it’s surely no coincidence that each one of the aforementioned is a live recording, highlighting – even if in some instances by artificial means – the gargantuan power of hard rock music in the wild.
Although the previously released ‘Alive!’ album documented the whole Kiss concert experience over four sides, for some reason the three sides live and one side studio concept of ‘Alive II’ sat well with me. Perhaps it was because ‘Alive II’, like its predecessor, only featured material from the three studio albums that had been released before it, so any repetition would’ve spoilt the continued concept.
And there was a stack of great tunes on ‘Destroyer’, ‘Rock And Roll Over’ and ‘Love Gun’! Of course, there was the packaging to take into account as well. There was a hint of menace about the Dennis Woloch designed cover. That huge Kiss logo on the front with the four individual shots of each band member that were enlarged on the back – with Gene Simmons looking particularly not of this world – promised more than just a pleasant aural experience.
Then, upon opening up the gatefold sleeve, you were confronted with THAT live photo. No band has EVER topped that photograph. EVER. However, like most fans, I later learned over the years that the record was rather too manufactured – more so than ‘Alive!’ – overdubbed in the studio within an inch of its life.
The running order bore little similarity to the L.A. Forum gigs that had been chosen to be the recording source, indeed ‘King Of The Night Time World’, ‘Hard Luck Woman’ and ‘Tomorrow And Tonight’ had not even appeared in the set. In the case of ‘Tomorrow And Tonight’ the song had never even been played live by the band and was, like ‘Hard Luck Woman’, recorded at a sound check.
As ‘King Of The Night Time World’ had not been played on the ‘Love Gun’ tour it is believed that this was either another sound check recording or, more than likely, to have been sourced from a previously abandoned live album project (tentatively titled ‘Rock And Roll Party In Tokyo’) recorded at one of the Budokan shows in Japan earlier in the year.
Still, the album gave fans, especially those who had never seen Kiss live, the essence of the Kiss concert experience. It made you desperate to see this American hard rock Godzilla. A Magic Mountain rollercoaster ride put to tape.
Despite the band’s claims that they didn’t have enough material to fill out the full four sides of the original double album with live versions of tracks from the preceding three albums there is proof – in the form of misprinted early album sleeves – that other live tracks had originally been planned for inclusion.
This included ‘Take Me’ (later issued on the ‘You Wanted The Best, You Got The Best!!’ compilation in 1996) , Peter Criss’ ‘Hooligan’ (that had been played live regularly on the ‘Love Gun’ tour and had been in the set at the Forum gigs) and ‘Do You Love Me?'(another Budokan holdover).
Regardless of the running order and how the album’s material was compiled, like ‘Alive!’, the record served the purpose of translating the Kiss live experience to vinyl and leaving a huge impression on teenagers across the globe who would come to know every riff, every beat and every eruption of pyro off by heart.
Thus the opening salvo of ‘Detroit Rock City’ and ‘King Of The Night Time World’, ‘I Stole Your Love’ (vastly improved in its live form over the distinctly under produced ‘Love Gun’ studio version), ‘Makin Love’ (no sign of the acoustic guitars of the ‘Rock And Roll Over’ version, this was pure Zeppelin influenced heavy metal).
The brain melting ‘Shock Me’ and ‘God Of Thunder’ (despite the severely edited solos from Frehley and Criss respectively) almost became the definitive versions of the songs for many years. Of course, the fourth side boasted those five new studio tracks. In my personal opinion four of these songs are amongst the best ever Kiss studio recordings in terms of production and impact.
In many respects, three of the five were basically a prologue of the solo albums that would soon follow as Paul Stanley’s ‘All American Man’, Gene Simmons’ ‘Larger Than Life’ and Ace Frehley’s ‘Rocket Ride’ were delivered very much in keeping to their individual Kiss persona.
Interestingly, of the five songs – the mildly xenophobic ‘Rockin In The USA’ and the pointless cover of the Dave Clark Five‘s ‘Any Way You Want It’ being the others – Ace only turned up for the recording of his own ‘Rocket Ride’, and it’s often debated whether Anton Fig played on that track in place of Peter Criss.
‘Rocket Ride’ aside, Bob Kulick, soon to form AOR legends Balance and the man who had almost got the lead guitarist’s job in Kiss before Frehley walked in, was entrusted with much of the guitar work on this new material and achieved some terrific results. He would substitute for Frehley again on later material recorded for the ‘Killers’ compilation.
In many respects ‘Alive II’ marked the end of an era. Although the band’s popularity at the time was rather exaggerated – they were very, very popular but never capable of filling stadiums in the US back then, were a moderately successful singles act and the albums were great sellers but not huge quadruple platinum smashes – the band’s attraction as a musical entity never got much better than 1977.
The ‘Alive II’ tour in late 1977 was essentially an extension of the ‘Love Gun’ jaunt and the band returned to Japan in early 1978 and, upon returning to the US, played at the Magic Mountain amusement park in California in order for live footage to be shot for the ‘Kiss Meets The Phantom Of The Park’ TV movie.
By this time the band’s dynamic had changed, with both Frehley and, especially, Criss showing signs of frustration with life in the band and both feeling they could do much better outside of it. The four solo albums released in September 1978 only enforcing that rather bizarre belief.
‘Alive II’ has, more recently, been re-packaged as part of the impressively packaged 4CD ‘Kiss Alive! 1975-2000’ box set alongside ‘Alive!’, ‘Alive III’ and the previously unreleased original version of ‘Alive IV’ cut on New Year’s Eve 1999 in Vancouver.
Entire Album (Select Tracks)